Federal prosecutors out of New Jersey have charged a disbarred Pinecrest personal injury attorney and three others with conspiracy to transport stolen firearms and conspiracy to sell stolen property. According to prosecutors and court documents, the former attorney somehow obtained seven guns which had been taken out of Iraq without permission. The guns purportedly belonged to Saddam Hussein's family. The Miami criminal lawyer representing the defendant said that his client believed that he obtained the guns legally and had the right to sell the firearms. The firearms were transported by a licensed Miami firearms dealer to New Jersey to be sold to the highest bidder.
Federal investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms discovered that the defendant had contacted a man in Pittsburgh seeking an appraisal of the stolen firearms. The appraiser then contacted two men out f New Jersey in an attempt to sell the firearms. ATF agents became aware that the stolen items were on the market and attempted to have undercover informants purchase the weapons. The ex-lawyer shipped six of the seven guns to New Jersey to complete the sale. The informants were going to buy the guns for $160,000. The best defense strategy in a case like this is to argue that a defendant had no knowledge that the guns were stolen. The government will attempt prove knowledge of the stolen property through statements made by the defendant while the deal was being consummated. One of the informants is going to testify that the defendant told him that he was 100% certain that the guns were from Iraq.
Two of the firearms that were confiscated were two pistols that had bee stamped with the initials "Q.S.". Investigators believe that the initials belong to Qusay Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, the deceased son of Saddam Hussein. Qusay was killed by American troops in Mosul back in 2003. Other weapons subject to forfeiture are a pistol from China with a Yemen flag depicted on the grip, two German pistols and two shotguns. Officials with ties to the Iraqi embassy in Washington, D.C. have acknowledged that the guns were misappropriated from Iraq and that they are fact the property of the Iraqi government. After his arrest, the defendant appeared before a federal magistrate at a bond hearing where he was released on $250,000 bail.
The strength of government's case will lie directly with the credibility of the government's witnesses. These witnesses must be able to convince a jury that the statements made by the defendant admitting to knowledge of the stolen property were in fact made. As long as the statements were not recorded, the credibility of the informants will be critical to the defense of the case. In general, an informant's testimony will almost always be tainted as informants are either working for pecuniary gain or to achieve a sentence reduction in their case.
Disbarred Miami Lawyer Charged with Selling Guns Stolen from Iraq's Hussein Family, Miami Herald.com, December 31, 2012.